Growing Up Scripted
And Losing Freedom Along the Way
I propose a brief experiment in citizenship: Find a teenager and ask her if she thinks she will grow up to lead a free life. The results might give you pause. When I asked this of my upper-middle-class high school students recently, nearly every one of these 11th and 12th graders said “no.”
The problem is that adolescents imagine adulthood as an extension of their own experience, and most see themselves as overworked, overregulated, and overstressed. They have a point.
Anyone over the age of 40 who spends much time with kids recognizes that growing up today is dramatically different. Compared to other generations, children now seem overprescribed. They have less time to play on their own outside the authority of adult coaches, teachers, and minders. They take more standardized tests. They get more homework. They are far more likely to be diagnosed with a psychological malady of the stress, depression, or attention-deficit variety and to be medicated. Many will leave college and enter the adult world already deeply encumbered by debt. They see making money as imperative, and payback for...
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